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A Comprehensive Guide to Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa)

Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to the eastern United States and Canada. This species is a host to the baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and several moths. Growing from 1 foot to 5 feet tall, this species grows in wetland areas such as bogs, swamps, and wet ditches. The yellow flowers bloom from August to September and the plant is hardy in zones 3-8.

Taxonomy and Naming of Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa)

Herbarium specimen of bog goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa).
Bog Goldenrod — Solidago uliginosa Nutt. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Taxonomy

Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) was originally named and described by Thomas Nuttall, an American botanist in 1834. It has kept this same name since and is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae).

Meaning of the Scientific and Common Names

Scientific Name

The genus name, Solidago, derives from the Latin words, Solidus and ago, which together mean to make (ago) whole (Solidus). This meaning comes from the medicinal uses of the plant. The species name, uliginosa, is a Latin for ‘marshy”, describing the habitat of the species.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the habitat of the species. Some other common names include marsh goldenrod (DiPinto, et al 1988) and swamp goldenrod (Graber and Graber 1976).

Physical Description

Yellow flowers of bog goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) in a wetland.
Flowers of Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) — Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 6.5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect, and glabrous (lower) and hairy above (Flora of North America).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with basal and cauline leaves, oblanceolate, with upper leaves cauline leaves sessile and subentire to serrate margins. They are 4 in (10.2 cm) to 14 in (36 cm) long and 0.2 in (0.5 cm) to 2.4 in (6 cm) wide. The leaves are smooth (Midwest National Technical Center 1997).
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from August to September.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of Bog Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of bog goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) — Range Map Credit: Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2023. (website https://bonap.org/). Chapel Hill, N.C. [maps generated from Kartesz, J.T. 2023. Floristic Synthesis of North America, Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program (BONAP). (in press)]

This goldenrod species is native to the eastern United States and Canada. It is considered to be rare in the states of Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. It is also rare in the province of Manitoba in Canada.

Habitat

Wet meadow habitat in NC.
Wet Meadow Habitat — “scene wet meadow Mason Farms ncwetlands KG (27)” by ncwetlands.org is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

This species grows in wetland areas such as bogs, marshes, and wet woods (Flora of North America), swampy meadows (Steyermark and Swink 1959), heath lands (Erskine 1960), scrub swamps (Bouchard and Hay 1976), damp ditches and roadsides (Skelton and Skelton 1991), and swamps (Angelo 2014).

Hosted Insects

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly on vegetation.
Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) — D. Gordon E. Robertson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This goldenrod, like a lot of other goldenrods, is a host to the wavy-lined emerald (Synchlora aerata). The genus in general is a host to the Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). A leaf-roller (Depressaria pulvipenella) lives in the rolled leaves of this species (Coquillett 1883).

Other Supported Wildlife

Blazing star (Liatris spicata) with bumblebee in McMullen House garden.
Bumblebee on Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) — Robert Coxe, Image

This species is a nectar source to other butterflies, skippers, bees, especially Andrena bees, and wasps during the growing season. It is especially important since it provides a nectar source in the late season. Birds eat the seeds in the fall and winter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this plant have any ethnobotanical uses?

The Native American Ethobotanical Database notes that this species has been used for skin diseases.

How is this plant distinguished from other Goldenrods?

This goldenrod is similar to the showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) and Mt. Albert goldenrod (Solidago simplex subsp. randii), but is separated from both by the fact that it grows in wetlands (House 1918).

Is this plant invasive?

This has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Bog Goldenrod

Yellow flowers of bog goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) in a wetland.
Flowers of Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) — Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 3-8. If your garden is within these zones and you have the right growing conditions (soil, moisture and exposure), you may well be able to grow this plant. However, if planted outside of its range, the hosted species may not recognize the plant or be harmed by ingesting a different species with an unfamiliar chemical composition.

Optimal Conditions

This species enjoys full sun to part-shade in moist to wet soils.

References

  • Angelo, Ray. 2014. Review of claims of species loss in the flora of Concord, Massachusetts, attributed to climate change. Phytoneuron 2014-84: 1-48.
  • Bouchard, Andre and S. Hay. 1976. The Vascular Flora of the Gros-Morne National Park Coastal Plain in Newfoundland Canada. Rhodora 78: 207-260.
  • DiPinto, Mary Ann, Robert McCollum, and Jane Steven. Guide to inland vegetated wetlands in Massachusetts. (Boston, MA: MA Department of Environmental Quality Engineering).
  • Erskine, D.S. 1960. The Plants of Prince Edward Island. (Ottawa, ON: Plant Research Institute).
  • Graber, Jean W. and Richard R. Graber. 1976. Environmental evaluations using birds and their habitats. (Urbana, IL: State of Illinois Department of Registration and Education.
  • House, Homer D. 1918. Wild flowers of New York. (Albany, NY: University of the State of New York).
  • Midwest National Technical Center. 1997. Midwestern wetland flora field office guide to plant species. (Lincoln, NE: USDA-Soil Conservation Service).
  • Skelton, Eleanor G. and Emerson W. Skelton. 1991. Haliburton Flora: an annotated list of the vascular plants of the County of Haliburton, Ontario. (Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum).
  • Steyermark, Julian A. and Floyd A. Swink. 1959. Plants new to Illinois and to the Chicago Region. Rhodora 61: 24-27.
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Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe is a professional ecologist and botanist who has worked as the State Ecologist of Delaware and as an ecologist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He is also a former Past-President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He currently is an innkeeper at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast LLC and a web designer and owner for Silphium Design LLC.

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